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Simon Mathews Strikes Out 11 as Chatham Takes Series Lead

by David Souza, 08-05-2016

Simon Mathews Strikes Out 11 as Chatham Takes Series Lead

Harwich, Mass. —Entering Game 1 of the East Division Series, starter Simon Mathews had a very specific goal in mind that he wanted to accomplish in his outing versus the Harwich Mariners.

“I just wanted to beat these guys,” said Mathews, a laser-like focus in his eyes and a passionate need to win seemingly dripping off of every word. “They are good and they know it, and that drives me insane. I just wanted to come out here and beat them and give us a chance to win [the series] at home in front of the Chatham crowd tomorrow night.”

Mathews would not be denied as the right-hander set a CCBL high for strikeouts in a game this season by setting down 11 batters on strikes in a stellar, eight-inning outing. As Mathews turned in one of the best pitching performances of any Chatham starter this season, the Anglers fed off of that energy by striking for three runs to defeat the top seeded Harwich Mariners, 3-1, at Whitehouse Field.

“That’s one of the best pitched games in that situation that I’ve seen for a Chatham A,” said manager John Schiffner, who has been the A’s skipper for 24 seasons. “When you stare down one of the best teams in the league and you get the win at their place, that’s special.”

With the win the Anglers (18-26-1) take a 1-0 series lead in the East Division Series over Harwich (27-16-2). Mathews (2-3) earned the win for the Anglers after tossing eight innings of shutout baseball. The Georgetown junior gave up five hits in the contest and allowed only one runner to reach scoring position in his eight innings of work.

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Box Score

Game Tracker | Text Score

Last time out against the Mariners, Mathews took the loss after allowing five earned runs in five and a third innings. This time around, Mathews succeeded through a variety of starting pitches and a specific locating of his throws.

“I learned last time that if I leave balls up or over the middle of the plate, these guys are going to hurt me, so I tried to avoid that” said Mathews. “I threw the kitchen sink at these guys. I started guys off with fastballs, changeups, curveballs, sliders – some for strikes and some out of the zone to try and get them to chase. And then I kept throwing the kitchen sink at them after I got ahead and it worked out.”

Although his team faced a stout Harwich pitching staff, Mathews said he felt no added pressure to have a perfect outing, adding that any pressure would fall on the Anglers’ opposition.

“We’re playing with house money,” said Mathews. “The pressure is on their team. They’re the guys who came in first in the division, they’re the guys who are ranked at the top of every summer ball national ranking, they’re the guys who are expected to win. So when we come in here, we’re just trying to shock the world.”

Turning in his longest outing of the season, Mathews trotted back out to the mound in the eighth inning after already facing 25 batters in the contest. While he allowed a one-out single by Antoine Duplantis, Mathews once again stifled the Harwich offense by retiring the next two hitters.

“[Pitching coach Rob Bono] and I were talking after the seventh,” said Schiffner. “He said ‘let’s let [Mathews] go to the eighth.’ And then when he came off after the eighth, I looked at [Bono] and said ‘What do you think?’”

Bono ultimately decided to opt for Garrett Whitlock to close out the game for the Anglers, ending Mathews’ night after eight shutout innings of phenomenal baseball.

“I know it was a good decision because Simon is so competitive – he hates being taken out of a game – and he didn’t say a word,” said Schiffner. “He was gassed.”

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Hunter Williams (2-3) allowed two unearned runs on three hits over five and a third innings for Harwich and took the loss.

John Aiello was the only Angler to record multiple hits on the night as the Wake Forest Demon Deacon went 2-for-4 and scored the eventual game-winning run.

“I told him last night, he has really worked hard,” said Schiffner. “He struggled hard through a lot of June and July and he continued to work, and continued to work and got better and he’s really helping us out right now.”

Aiello reached on a single to right field in the fifth inning and quickly moved over to second on a failed pickoff attempt by Williams. Already holding a 1-0 lead, Chatham doubled the deficit as Jake Palomaki stroked an RBI single to left-center field that brought a sprinting Aiello in to score.

“I was just trying to swing in my zone and see pitches where I wanted to hit them, instead of swinging wildly like in my first at-bat,” said Aiello. “I feel like I got ahead in the count in my second at-bat and got a good pitch to hit.”

The shortstop went through similar adjustments during batting practice as hitting coach Travis Beausoleil harped on Aiello to keep his chin down and see the ball in order to make better contact and rack up base hits. 

The Anglers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first after back-to-back batters reached base to lead off the game. Jake Palomaki drew a leadoff walk before Williams misplayed a Mason Koppens bunt that allowed the outfielder to reach base. Both runners moved over on a double steal two batters later. With Gunnar Troutwine at the dish, Palomaki would come to the plate on a wild pitch that flew past Harwich catcher Nick Feight.

With Mathews setting down Mariners every inning, the Chatham offense hungered for more run support, and got it with Troutwine’s RBI single in the eighth inning. The All-Star pushed Chatham’s lead to three by lacing a single to right field that brought in Mason Koppens chugging around from second. On a close play at the plate, Koppens just beat out the throw as the Northeastern Husky slid in under Feight’s tag.

Harwich made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth inning after back-to-back doubles brought the Mariners within two runs, however Whitlock settled down and retired Cal Raleigh to preserve the win and earn the save.

The Anglers will now look to punch their ticket to the East Championship Series on Saturday night at Veterans Field as Chatham hopes to complete the upset by eliminating the top-seeded Mariners at home. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

Reiterating a mantra that Chatham has adopted down the stretch, Mathews added, with the entirety of his team packing up just a few feet away, “Do not, I repeat do not let the A’s get hot.”



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